Casper Kleiman from Van Berge Henegouwen gave his response to IPTV for Superyachts on the move in our March edition of Superyacht Technology Digital Magazine.
“A lot of questions on yachts these days relate to IPTV and streaming content. As people watch streaming content at home, they expect the same on a yacht. Bandwidth on a yacht is yet not the same as at home. And when there is a larger group of guests onboard, the challenges become even bigger. How can we deal with this?
It’s worth looking at some of the terminologies.
IPTV comes from the world of hotels and corporations. It is designed to manage content on a private network. You distribute and manage content in a particular way. Content can come from the internet, satellite or local. Someone manages the system and ensures content is available for you.
Streaming is a technology you use, e.g. when watching via the internet. The internet is a public network and you will need internet access for this, so bandwidth is important. As bandwidth is often a limiting factor, data is compressed involving a codec. To watch this on a TV, you need a box or pc between to decompress the data for you. As bandwidth might fluctuate, the box buffers data. It will start playing when there is enough data to avoid glitches. You won’t notice any disruptions as long as there is sufficient bandwidth.
Distribution for satellite TV
You would think that a yacht can receive satellite TV and send any channel to any screen you like. This is not true, unfortunately. First of all, the location of the vessel is decisive for the reception of any content. Second, the amount of content depends whether or not you have a subscription and which channels are included if you have one. Third, with the subscription mostlycomes to a dedicated receiver/decoder. You can switch channels through the receiver.
When you have multiple TV’s, but only one receiver, both TV’s will show the same content/channel. This is why you usually have more than one receiver, one for each room/location/user onboard. This way, every location is independent of each other and can show different content. The more TV’s, the more receivers. On a large yacht, this can become huge.
For larger yachts, there is a different way of doing this. It is to limit the amount of receivers to the amount of channels people tend to watch. Each receiver is stuck on one channel. You now switch receivers to switch channels. This keeps a number of receivers under control, but it limits you to a certain number of channels.
If you don’t want to be compromised when watching a live event, a satellite is often still the best choice. You will need to have the right package, one that offers the event. It’s easier when you prepare in advance. If you are not sure about what is available, check with an expert. They can check what is available, what you need and make the arrangements for you. This way, you never experience glitches, pauses or pixelation.
Distribution for the internet
When you want to watch something offered on the internet, bandwidth is key. One HD TV will need roughly 2-3Mb down, a 4K one already 25Mb. The more TV’s, the more bandwidth. Even with modern technology and e.g. VSAT providers offering a way to compress the content, the necessary bandwidth is a major factor to take into account. Every smartphone or tablet will also add bandwidth requirements. This means that the more people are online, the more bandwidth. To make sure everyone enjoys fast internet, you need big bandwidth or bandwidth management tools(like Kerio control) or both. Bandwidth management means prioritising who gets what. It might mean certain users or certain equipment go first. What’s left is for the rest.
Preloading content is an option to make good use of bandwidth when the usage is low. You can now download content you might enjoy later. Caching content might come with legal limitations though and not everybody might be confident with sharing preferences for the sake of preloading favourite movies or often visited websites.
Internet content and regions
When you are not in the US, you might not be able to enjoy certain content you could in the US. You cannot listen to Pandorain Europe. There are ways of making your IP address appear to be from the US, while you are somewhere else. This way you can enjoy your US content anywhere. Again, legal limitations might apply because an IP address is a number which is used to identify a device on a computer network, such as the Internet. Devices using IP addresses use the Internet Protocol to communicate. Changing your IP address is comparable to get a parcel delivered to an address which is not your own, to avoid payment for the product.
Since you might not be able to watch your favourite channel through Satellite, streaming TV might be an option. There are solutions where a number of channels can be streamed to a vessel, so the guests can enjoy their favourite channel, no matter where they are. As said before, for so my channels it might not be legal to watch them outside a certain region and in most cases it is necessary to upgrade the basic VSAT contract, to dedicate sufficient bandwidth to the streaming devices.
There are so many options, limitations and terms, it is quite confusing. For users however, it’s simple. They just want to watch things. They just want to enjoy their favourite content. When guests on the yacht are watching TV, they don’t care whether they are watching satellite or the internet, IPTV or streaming.
Therefore, it is beneficial to have contact with an expert, who provides up-to-date reliable information about all possibilities and supports you with choosing the best possible for each situation.”
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